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Judge rules for Hagerstown cemetery owner

Charles Brown was one of four suing to overturn state requirement

Charles Brown was one of four suing to overturn state requirement

October 17, 2007

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of a Hagerstown cemetery owner challenging Maryland's restrictions on funeral home ownership, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

However, the extent of the plaintiffs' victory wasn't clear, said Charles Brown, who owns Rest Haven Cemetery in Hagerstown.

Brown was one of four plaintiffs suing to overturn Maryland's requirement that funeral home owners be licensed directors.

Members of the Maryland State Board of Morticians, which regulates the state's funeral industry, were defendants.

Brown's son, Eric, who is licensed, owns Rest Haven Funeral Chapel on the same property as the cemetery.

For a decade, Brown unsuccessfully lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to change the law.

On Wednesday in Baltimore, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett struck down the law as unconstitutional, according to the Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs.

However, Brown said the ruling was unclear as to how it will affect his situation. The plaintiffs' attorneys will ask the judge to explain the ruling, he said.

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? Andrew Schotz

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